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Freedom Kicks: Of Memorials and Mascots

Today's links run the gamut from memorializing a soccer legend to debating whether a rival team should get a mascot--with lots in between.

What do you think about mascots for soccer teams?  The Philadelphia Union are asking their fans.
What do you think about mascots for soccer teams? The Philadelphia Union are asking their fans.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Here's hoping your first weekend of 2014 was relaxing. For many of us, today is the first time in several weeks it's starting to feel like the real world again. Everyone is back to work, school is back in session, and the house is empty of company. What hasn't changed, however, is that we've got your morning soccer links ready to go.

Eusébio obituary | Football |
A graceful obituary for one of the world's great players. As with many of his generation, he spent time in the North American Soccer League. Hopefully, the trail he and the other greats of that period blazed to these shores will again regularly draw the world's best in the years ahead.

Exclusive: Pareja steps down as Rapids coach -
This could get ugly. Fast. Stay tuned, because if potential charges of tampering and negotiating in bad faith play out, this won't get resolved short of the league headquarters negotiating a peace between Pareja, the Colorado Rapids, and FC Dallas. And, this has the potential to change the fortunes of the Rapids, one of the league's up-and-coming teams.

New York Red Bulls trio, John Harkes' son lead call-ups for US Under-20 January camp |
Two D.C. United Academy players were selected. Does anyone have the scoop on whether homegrown contracts are possibilities in the near future?

Bob Bradley's not the only one: 5 other American coaches in Europe | SIDELINE |
An interesting read on other American coaches who have walked the sideline in Europe.

ASN article: The 10 Best U.S. Soccer Tweets of 2013—Go Get 'Em
Another fun end-of-year list, this one is about tweets. Apparently we all need to follow Mix Diskerud (@MixDiskerud).

Spirit retain Harris, Krieger, Gayle, Matheson and add USWNT player Averbuch — Washington Spirit
The Spirit now know who their allocated players are for next year, adding USWNT player Yael Averbuch and Mexican WNT player Renae Cuellarto to the team. And, in one of the happiest moves for the residents of Ingleside at King Farm, Canadian internationals Robyn Gayle and Diana Matheson will be back on the squad. If you didn't read Steven Goff's profile of their surprising living arrangements last year, do yourself a favor and read it now.

Philadelphia Union Asking For Input on Mascot - Brotherly Game
Finally, the Philadelphia Union are starting a discussion with their season ticket holders about whether they should have a team mascot. Our friends at SB Nation's Union blog, the Brotherly Game, have an opinion about the discussion--a very strong opinion.

Do you think our rivals to the north should get a mascot? Could it possibly be as cool as Talon (of course not, but for arguments sake feel free to offer other opinions)? As always, use the comments section below to talk about these or other topics on your mind.